A Café in the Garden in the heart of Thapae Road
The Mail’s eating out column aims at
providing reviews of a wide range of restaurants, from fancy
to the very local and, of course, a range of nationalities.
It happens that the last restaurant reviewed and this one,
Phil’s Diner, have certain similarities. Both are run by
British men and seek to provide ‘watering holes for ex-pats
in Chiang Mai and naturally our Thai friends’. Both aim at
and achieve a friendly environment and service, reasonable
prices and decent food. Luckily they are in different parts
Phil’s Diner is on Tha Pae Road, while a
quite busy street, especially in day time, is lucky enough
to offer easy parking. It is opposite the Krung Thai Bank
and just a few doors away from the Taste of Heaven.
The menu offers a wide range of food, so
large in fact that it would be possible to fill more than
this column with details. This is partly because they open
for breakfast, lunch and dinner and also offer both western
and Thai food. The Thai selection boasts the ‘20 Most
Popular Thai Dishes’ (courtesy of a Thai chef, by the way)
and not surprisingly these include curries like Massaman,
chicken with cashew nuts, hot and sour soup and Pad Thai,
all at around 59 to 79 baht a dish.
We made two visits, one for breakfast and
a few days before that for dinner. Breakfasts range from the
(probably) substantial Big English (at 165 baht), but that
is for someone else to write about. I can vouch for the
Continental with good coffee at 95 baht, but there are also
other sets including American, Israeli and Greek plus
sandwiches or simply baguettes, teas and coffees and juices
and on occasion specials like imported German ham.
The main menu might be seen as English
due to such traditional dishes as Bangers and Mash or roasts,
including Chicken and Pork (225 baht), but this is quickly
dispelled by the sight of Coq au Vin, Chili con Carne,
Hungarian Goulash, Italian Meat Balls in Roasted Tomatoes
and a choice of pastas and ten pizzas. Not to mention a full
page of salads.
My photographer and I went for a choice
of starters: the excellent tomato and basil soup and the
highlight of the evening; a substantial plate of spicy
prawns (not Thai style) in a rich sauce, just made to go
with the garlic bread. In the list of starters you can find
French Onion Soup, mushroom dishes and more.
We also tried one of the pizzas, only to
find that it was substantial enough to be shared having had
a starter (so a dessert had to be sacrificed: next time,
they are home made and sounded scrumptious). The other dish
chosen was also very filling, one of a wide range of filled
baked potatoes. These can be had with anything from beans
and bacon to butter and spring onions (95 baht) and are
actually two medium sized potatoes ‘welded’ together by the
fillings, in my case tuna and mayonnaise.
We tried the house wines, red and white
which were fine. Beer and soft drinks are, of course also on
offer. To the right of the first section of the restaurant
there is a well stocked bar. The entrance on Tha Pae Road
opens into an interior dining room, further through is a
pretty garden section, which seemed quiet and private. The
seats are comfortable, tables a decent size and the
decoration pleasant. As shown the prices range widely
depending on choice of menu, from 200 baht a head up without
alcohol. It is open 8 a.m. to 10p.m. every day on Tha Pae
Road, on the left side of the road, heading in the (one way)
direction of the traffic.